Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes gained a measure of revenge on Sunday and their first beach volleyball tour win since the 2019 Vienna Major.
The Canadian duo outlasted Bárbara Seixas and Carolina Solberg Salgado in the women’s final, prevailing 21-19, 20-22, 15-7 at the Pro Tour Elite 16 event in Latvia. All five of their victories in Jurmala were against a Brazilian opponent.
“They’re a great team and we knew we would have to play really, really well to beat them and to match them,” Pavan, who hails from Kitchener, Ont., said after the match. “We’re just really proud and excited to be able to win this tournament.”
Last June 6, Pavan and Humana-Paredes were swept 21-15, 21-16 in 37 minutes by Bárbara and Carol in the bronze-medal match at the Ostrava Beach Open in the Czech Republic.
A month later, 2-0 the Canadians swept the Brazilian tandem in the quarter-finals at the FIVB World Tour event in Gstaad, Switzerland, on the way to a third-place finish ahead of the Olympics in Tokyo, where they placed fifth.
Sunday’s final was the fourth time in six matches this week the Brazilians played the full three sets, so perhaps fatigue was a factor, particularly in the tiebreaker set. But twice this season Bárbara and Carol have won gold, in mid-March at the Tlaxcala Challenge in Mexico and three events later in Doha, Qatar.
WATCH l Pavan, Humana-Paredes win beach volleyball Pro Tour Elite 16 title:
For Pavan and Humana-Paredes, it was the third time reaching the final in their past five tournaments after silver-medal performances at the AVP Austin Open in Texas in May and last October at the World Tour Finals in Italy.
On May 27, the seventh-seeded Canadians were eliminated in Ostrava after posting a 1-2 record in pool play.
They will try to defend their 2019 world title this coming week in Italy.
Pavan and Humana-Paredes advanced to Sunday’s final after rallying for a 18-21, 21-19, 15-10 semifinal victory over Brazil’s Eduarda (Duda) Lisboa and Ana Patricia Ramos on Saturday. Earlier in the day, Pavan and Humana-Paredes beat Brazil’s Talita Antunes and Rebecca Cavalcanti 21-17, 21-18 in the quarter-finals.
Lisboa and Ramos beat Americans Sara Hughes and Kelley Kolinske (21-19, 21-17) in the bronze-medal match on Sunday.
Pulled away late in final set
In the gold-medal contest, Pavan and Humana-Paredes took control early in the third and final set despite some service struggles.
A kill attempt by Bárbara directed into the net gave the Canadians a 7-4 lead and a serve into the net made it 10-5 for Pavan and Humana-Paredes. Canada pulled away by grabbing the next three points, highlighted by an ace from Toronto’s Humana-Paredes, a Pavan point off a block and her teammate’s kill.
Leading 14-7, the six-foot-five Pavan used her long left hand to send the ball to open part of the sand for the victory.
The Canadians had another good start to the second set, leading 6-3 before Brazil knotted matters coming out of a timeout. The teams exchanged points for much of the match before Bárbara and Carol appeared to be in control, up 18-15 after Humana-Paredes sent a kill attempt deep and out of bounds.
However, Canada avoided defeat three times when trailing 20-17 and tied the set before Brazil scored twice to seal the win.
Poor serving, which plagued Pavan and Humana-Paredes in Saturday’s quarter-final, resurfaced in Sunday’s opening set but Canada was able to limit the damage to build leads of 7-3 and 10-5.
Brazil closed to within 10-9 but the Canadians held the lead until Pavan’s kill attempt met the net to make it 19-19.
Canada put the match away with Pavan sending a shot to the sand following an outstanding dig by Humana-Paredes.
The June 10-19 world tournament can be streamed live on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.starting Friday at 3 a.m. ET.